[Noisebridge-discuss] How is the anti-harassment policy holding up?

Hannah Grimm dharlette at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 17:52:57 UTC 2014

First off, I am so sorry that you had to go through this.  I've been on the
receiving end of similar things at Noisebridge, but I was fortunate enough
to have a handful of friends within the community who were very involved
and high-status, which made it possible for us to pass an anti-harassment
policy at the space.  While I never sought justice against the people who
groped and harassed me (one was a stranger, the other already on his way to
jail for unrelated reasons), I did manage to get a policy in place, which
has been used a handful of times.  I wrote about my experiences with
harassment and getting a policy in place
<https://plus.google.com/+HannahGrimm/posts/5517czLTefa> here.

Shortly after we added it, it came to light that one of the members of our
space had a criminal history of battering women and sexually assaulting
minors.  One of the ladies at the space came forward with an overwhelming
amount of evidence, and he was very quickly banned.  We very quickly banned
one person who had been looking up the skirt of another woman in the place,
and it's also been brought to bear (in non-sexual harassment) against an
individual who was engaging in a creepy campaign of harassment via email
and phone (this one is currently going through mediation).  I wouldn't say
that it's solved all of our problems, but it's definitely made a difference
for the better.  We used a variant of the Double Union anti-harassment
policy. <http://www.doubleunion.org/policies>

There are a couple of things I'd recommend moving forwards.  The first is,
do the women at your hackerspace have private backchannels set up for them
to talk, share stories, warn eachother, etc?  A lot of the organizing,
support, etc. that makes it possible to deal with harassment here has been
done via the anarcho-feminist hackerhive mailing list (not to mention
networking, job opportunities, etc.).  Having other women around you that
you can rally to your cause is so very, very important, and these
backchannels matter because when the system fails and you can't get things
done officially, you can at least warn the others in your community.  The
second is to get an anti-harassment policy in place.  I suspect that the Ada
initiative <https://adainitiative.org/what-we-do/conference-policies/> can
help you there, they have carefully documented a ton of work on policies.
 It has to be part of the culture that these kinds of behaviors aren't
okay. A policy won't magically solve the issue, but it will at least give
the community a starting point moving forward.  Lastly, have you considered
joining (or founding) your own, explicitly feminist, hackerspace? Model
View Culture
has a great write-up on it, and San Francisco's Double Union
<http://www.doubleunion.org/> is an excellent example of it done right.
Sometimes communities are broken and it's easier to build a new one than to
fix it.

I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this, and I am so very, very
sorry that you went through it.

On Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 5:47 AM, Jen Kotila <jen.kotila01 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello fellow anarchistic, the-users-decide-policy, do'ocracy hackerspace
> members! I am a member of Labitat.dk and biologigaragen.org who has been
> severely sexually harassed for many months. You can read an account here.
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-DPJhdE71IyXx_Du9TlV5b2UvVvwkLhgOnVO-06pBCY/edit>
> Labitat and Biologigargen didn't have any structures in place to deal with
> this so the proposed solution of dealing with this sensitive issue was
> worse than the cure as I ended up getting mobbed and having a nervous
> breakdown in a meeting on May 22.
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UBXIbR9BY9BTmaSe7dDenBkKCIyAuHySsgtwKFMVQck/edit>
> After that I became somewhat desperate to seek justice within an
> anarchistic, DIY framework and reached out to the DIYbio community. Some
> were supportive some weren't.
> <https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/diybio/oLgYmZ26Wco> Oh, also,
> amusingly I did that in part because I was silenced on the Labitat and
> Biologigargen.org mailing lists arond that time. In fact, I was stripped of
> my moderator privileges on the Biologigaragen list by someone, probably one
> of guys who harassed me. felt like that meant I would not be heard and felt
> somewhat desperate. Also, I was moderated on that list and ONLY me. I was
> not informed that I was unable to post, it just happened.
> Late, I reached out to the local anarchist community in Copenhagen (which
> is VERY active but to which I am not that connected as I am new in DK--
> someone else should have handled this I think) and finally found a well
> regarded mediator from within that milieu (the other side was suggesting
> business mediators, lawyers who knew one of the guys involved in bullying
> me, and a guy I had been in active conflict with).
> On the day before mediation, June 16, they finally posted their response
> <http://lists.labitat.dk/pipermail/discuss/2014-June/013794.html>to my
> allegations
> <http://lists.labitat.dk/pipermail/discuss/2014-May/013537.html> which
> were publicly stated on May 17.
> I was hoping that through mediation, I would be able to get the opposing
> side to stop the Kopenlab Festival. You see, I was originally on the
> organizing group for this Festival and a lot of the harassment took place
> in that group. I'm also firmly of the position that unrepentant harassers
> who, instead of listening to the person coming forward instead react with
> increasing hostility that leads to very dangerous mobbing behavior and
> baseless threats of libel and slander (see the most recent post on our
> Discuss list here for that gem)
> <http://lists.labitat.dk/pipermail/discuss/2014-June/013828.html> instead
> do not deserve to be in charge of anything.
> So I come to you now asking for a few things.
> 1, I have been posting about Noisebridge's case and talking about it
> without knowing the details. Are they somewhere in narrative form?
> 2. Is anyone here willing to work with Labitat to help sort this out? If
> so, you can try posting on our Space mailing list to offer help:
> http://lists.labitat.dk/listinfo or write to the board
> bestyrelse at lists.labitat.dk
> 3. I created a site called opendiscriminaiton.org to help deal with this
> incredibly serious and systemic problem in hacking. If you guys want to add
> to it (threre's a brand-spakin' new wikia with nothing on it because my
> collaborators and I are too busy with Occupy Kopenlab
> <http://opendiscrimination.org/?cat=3> to do any work on it), please
> knock yourself out. Eventually I would like it to expand, become more
> general and maybe grow to the point where it functions as a movement wide
> "staff handbook" or "hr" of sorts so that every new anarchistically
> organized male-dominated hackerspace doesn't have to reinvent the wheel
> every time harassment happens.
> 4. Speaking of Occupy Kopenlab <http://opendiscrimination.org/?cat=3>,
> the group behind opendiscrimination.org is organizing action against the
> Kopenlab Festival. Basically, the idea is that since it's supposed to be a
> non-hierarchical open knowledge festival they should welcome any and all
> opposition, well, openly. Of course, you are all in the States but there's
> ways to take action online if you want to.
> You know, I really miss the States right now. This whole ordeal has made
> damned homesick. DK has the highest rate of sexual harassment in the EU, 37%
> of all women in DK
> <http://www.b.dk/nationalt/vold-chikane-og-stalking-mod-kvinder-i-danmark-overstiger-eu-gennemsnit>
> have been harassed compared to only 25% in the States
> <http://www.b.dk/nationalt/vold-chikane-og-stalking-mod-kvinder-i-danmark-overstiger-eu-gennemsnit>.
> I was warned by others in Labitat that the general community would probably
> believe me but would be PISSED at -me- for stirring up conflict as Danes
> are conflict averse. Yep. That is by and large what has happened (although
> I get a lot of doubt and misogynistic abuse as well).
> Maybe you can help Labitat solve this. Or maybe Labitat is in its death
> throes over this and it'll just be interesting for other spaces in the
> movement to watch. Let's see what happens.
> Thanks for your time,
> Jen
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